​Elly Sharp, Ruan Nunes, ​David Stephenson & Francis Pauwels of ​​Tirohanga Fruit Co Ltd


Home / Great Farming Stories / Bay of Plenty / ​Elly Sharp, Ruan Nunes, ​David Stephenson & Francis Pauwels of ​​Tirohanga Fruit Co Ltd

2023 Finalist: Elly Sharp, Ruan Nunes, ​David Stephenson​ & Francis Pauwels of ​​Tirohanga Fruit Co Ltd – Horticulture

Tirohanga Fruit Co is a family business that is growing great kiwifruit while being deeply committed to supporting its employees and wider community.

Along with farming interests, the company predominantly grows kiwifruit, and people are at the heart of the operation.

Tirohanga Fruit Co is being guided by CEO Elly Sharp who took over the business from her parent’s Ray and Lis in 2020 – 25 years after they founded it.

Building on her parent’s legacy, Elly is striving to maintain a successful, sustainable, inter-generational family business, employing family and others in the local community.

Led by operations manager Ruan Nunes and orchard manager David Stephenson, the company is focused on reducing chemical inputs as it increasingly adopts organic growing principles.

The business includes more than 100 canopy hectares of green and gold kiwifruit across 16 orchards between Te Kaha and Ōpōtiki, with the home orchard being in Tirohanga.

About 40ha was developed on Māori-leased land in Te Kaha and Omaio, and these leases annually return half of the profits to the landowners each year.

Protecting soils in the orchards is a top priority, with a number of measures in place to achieve this. Rows have been widened to match mower width – reducing both soil compaction and the impact on soil biology. New tractors with wider, softer tyres also minimise soil disruption, while planting crops such as turnips helps enhance the soil structure.

All orchard waste is recycled and, to minimise the amount of water being used, each site stores rain water which is used for irrigation and frost protection.

It was the company’s staff that inspired their entry into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Along with Elly, they are environmentally conscious and want to improve approaches to reduce the company’s environmental impact.

Elly, Ruan, David & Francis are the winners of Norwood Farming Efficiency Award and ZESPRI® Kiwifruit Orchard Award.

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